Kelly Winterhalter fell in love with poker when she tried a low-stakes cash game on a whim just 18 months ago.
Now she's hunting big scores at the World Series of Poker.
Winterhalter is the founder and formulator of all-natural skincare company Ellovi and after six WSOP events she's already got four cashes.
Winterhalter is from the Bay Area and tried poker for the first time when she was bored one Friday night. Now just a year and a half later Winterhalter is competing against some of the best poker players in the world.
“I think anything in life that you're passionate about, you should pursue wholeheartedly,” Winterhalter told PokerListings.com.
Kelly Winterhalter, Founder of Ellovi Skin Care
Winterhalter was playing the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event where she had made it into the money for the third time at the 2016 WSOP.
PokerListings.com: How'd you get into poker?
KW: I started playing about a year and a half ago. I kind of just showed up on a whim. I was bored on a Friday night and didn't have anything to do so I tried $3/$6 Limit Hold'em.
I felt a connection with the game and fell in love instantly. From that first day I knew poker was going to be big in my life. I started studying really hard and moving up in stakes.
Winterhalter all in on the bubble at WSOP.
I played a lot of daily tournaments but sort of used cash games to build my bankroll.
Playing big buy-in tournaments has always been my goal so cash games were a way to do that.
PL: What hooked you into the game so quickly?
KW: I think the depth of the game attracted me. I love the psychology and the math.
PL: You were all in on a flip on the bubble just now. Do you get a rush from playing poker?
KW: It was pretty intense but it was just a great spot to get it in.
I'm not playing to min-cash but that flip was definitely more important than a lot of other ones I've had.
PL: You've been playing for a relatively short time but are you imagining yourself winning a bracelet?
KW: Yeah absolutely. It's definitely inspiring to play with a lot of these players. They're some of the best in the world so playing against them motivates me to want to get better.
It's really challenging playing on this level so having an opportunity to play in these events and see some really high-level play has been incredible.
Winning a bracelet one day is an important dream for me.
PL: You're an entrepreneur. Did some of the same things that drew you to that, also draw you to poker?
KW: It's actually really similar. Playing poker allows you a lot of freedom and travel and those are some of the reasons I became an entrepreneur.
I dropped out of college and had a brief nine-to-five. Within about eight months I knew it wasn't something I wanted to do.
"Winning a bracelet one day is an important dream for me."
It's just not a lifestyle that's attractive to me. I left my job and decided to do something on my own.
PL: What can you tell us about your skincare company?
KW: We're a six-ingredient skincare line and we make moisturizers that are so pure you can eat them.
Everything we make is ethically sourced and wildly harvested.
We believe it's really important to put things that are pure and nutritious on your body the same way you'd put it in your body.
PL: In a perfect world does your future include success in poker and business?
KW: I hope so. I've been lucky to find two things that I'm really passionate about and I'm definitely going to pursue them.
Check our WSOP 2016 Page for more interviews and news updates.